Injured V8 Supercars star James Courtney is confident of returning to racing in a fortnight despite receiving the heartbreaking news he must pull out of this weekend’s Bathurst 1000.
Courtney on Wednesday officially lost his brave race against the clock to overcome five broken ribs and a punctured lung sustained in a freak accident in August’s Sandown 500.
Veteran Russell Ingall will step in for Courtney to partner Jack Perkins in their Holden Racing Team (HRT) entry.
Courtney was told on Tuesday night that he had failed to receive a medical clearance for the injury sustained when hit by signage propelled by a low flying Navy helicopter at Sydney.
“It’s the race we all live for. I’m gutted,” Courtney said.
“It’s our grand final. It’s the race that stops the nation for motorsport fans.
“To be taken out through no fault of my own is massively annoying.
“But it’s in the best interests of the team despite how much I wanted to get out there and get on with it.”
Courtney was confident of returning as soon as the next round – the Gold Coast 600 starting on October 23.
“I want to. That is the target. Hopefully there are no hiccups in the next couple of weeks,” he said.
Courtney said he had received an apology from the Navy but had not heard more on their joint investigation with V8 Supercars into the bizarre accident.
“That’s the hardest part, it was some outside force, that’s what makes this harder to swallow – we will see what happens (with the investigation),” he said.
Courtney will remain in Bathurst for Sunday’s 161-lap epic race to support his HRT team.
Ingall replaced Courtney at last month’s Sandown 500, nabbing a surprise top 10 placing.
“He did a great job at Sandown. If there was anyone I could pick (it would be Ingall),” Courtney said.
“I don’t know how happy I will be if he wins the thing on Sunday though.”
In 1995 Ingall won his first Great Race with Larry Perkins.
Twenty years later, Ingall will partner Perkins’ son Jack at Bathurst.